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  • Writer's pictureNeighborLink Indianapolis

Home Sweet Home, Hopefully

Can you imagine living in the same home for more than 50 years? Ms. Maime is 90 years old and has called the same house home for the last 56 years. She can't imagine being relocated anywhere. To go out from this world and into the next from the comfort of her familiar bedroom surrounded by the community she has known and loved for more than half a century is a perfect example of why it's so important to support our neighbors in need with aging in place.

Aging in place is the preference of most people, but the options for doing so vary greatly. A recent study around social determinants of health, specifically looking at middle-income seniors, demonstrated that those even with middle-incomes will struggle to have the resources to maintain their homes and access services needed to remain in them. Income inequalities persist throughout one's life span which makes aging in place much more challenging for those with fewer resources.

Low-income older households struggle to pay for necessary supportive services. For these households, basic housing costs drain resources needed to pay for home modifications or in-home services. As many of us not struggling in these situations, we've felt the recent pinch of inflation in our groceries and transportation expenses. Imagine already being in a situation where it was a constant decision between spending your fixed income on food, healthcare OR utilities.

So many of the homeowners we serve have learned to make use of available resources to find food, discounts on medication, they live within their means to the best of their ability but life happens and when the gutter falls, they certainly can't pay for the repair.

As volunteers have noted when helping a homeowner, "Wow, I always just assumed someone didn't care about their property when I'd drive by a house like this." They realize nothing could be further from the truth. That sweet octogenarian loves her home more than words can say, but she just doesn't have the physical or financial ability to stabilize it.

Unlike many of our fellow nonprofits in the city, we focus on providing home repairs such as gutter repair/replacement, plumbing repairs, electrical repairs, accessibility repairs and safety and security focused repairs at no cost to the homeowner. We don't provide a loan, we don't provide funds to the homeowner—we simply get the repairs done. When able, we use volunteers to complete the home repairs and when we need to call in the professionals—either from the complexity of the work or the lack of handy volunteers, we take care of that too.

"I can’t believe people would do this for me. Since NeighborLink has come into my life, I feel more secure. I can stay here forever. " - Deloris

Neighborhoods play an essential part in supporting aging in place. In 2018, the Urban Institute’s Housing Matters Initiative indicated the “evidence suggests that low-income older adults and older adults of color are more likely to live in neighborhoods with economic, social and physical conditions that are detrimental to their health.” For older adults want to age in familiar neighborhoods due to family and friends nearby, their faith community, all the basic needs resources in familiar locations the community's call is clear. Help improve neighborhood quality. Focus on things that can be done to reduce crime and increase social connectivity. Stabilize the housing stock, ensure streetlights are present and working, help homeowners repair or install exterior security lights. Clear an overgrown yard to enable neighbors to easily say hello from their own porches. Little things make a big difference.

Unfortunately, with the current income and wealth inequalities growing by leaps and bounds, fewer and fewer older individuals will have the option to age in the place of their choosing. The value of aging in place is not just important to the homeowner, but to the overall economy. The home is the setting for the delivery of long-term care, another trend expected to continue as millions more aging adults want to remain in their current dwellings while managing disabilities and health challenges.

Join us in supporting older adults who desire to remain vital and engaged residents in their communities, residing in their homes with peace and pride. Consider donating to NeighborLink Indianapolis either online or by check, partner with us in providing large repairs to homeowners in need or volunteer with us.

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